Posted By: Envision2bWell
Even before the financial turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys found that 80% of Americans carried mortgage and/or other types of debt, 60% couldn’t cover an unexpected $1,000 expense, and 24% skipped necessary medical care in 2018 because they couldn’t afford it.
Of all the stressors in life, financial stress is more corrosive than most because, as Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a Stanford University health psychologist argues, “it can’t be compartmentalized, like a problem at work or a disagreement with a friend. It touches all aspects of one’s life: your family, your home, your job, and your ability to serve your community.”
Taking a proactive approach to your financial well-being is an act of self-care. It will not only do wonders for your financial health, it will also help your mental health, your physical health, and your relationships! The following three strategies from ExperienceLife.com* can help you feel more empowered in your financial life:
1. Examine your financial story.
Start by looking at your complete money picture, says financial educator Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story. “Often, the free-floating money anxiety people have is disconnected from numbers,” she notes. “When we actually look at our reality, we come back to a place of power — and then we can see what changes need to be made.”
2. Shift your mindset from shame to self-care.
Financial coach Lynne Somerman notes “We tie up a lot of our self-worth and personal value in what’s going on with our finances,” says. “People say all the time, ‘Everyone else seems to manage this without going into a lot of debt.’” Self-care is a positive, forward facing attitude that gives you the energy to see what is possible and take action that is meaningful.
3. Quit the comparison game.
The “compare and despair” phenomenon is common when it comes to money. On social media, heavily curated posts can create the illusion that other people’s lives are happier or more fulfilling — which could be why research has tied social-media use to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Scrolling through photos of other people’s expensive outfits or extravagant vacations could lead to a feeling that you don’t have enough, and that you’ll never have that kind of life, especially in these times.
In addition, taking practical steps to increase your financial well-being will greatly reduce your financial stress and worries, both in the short and long-term.
1. Live well within your means. Just because you get a bonus, or a wage increase, doesn’t mean you need to increase spending. Err on the side of caution so that you always have that extra cushion. This cushion will keep your mind at ease and reduce unnecessary worry.
2. Budget. Knowing exactly what your expenses are, exactly what you can spend, and exactly what you will save/invest helps you stay on track and not go into debt.
3. Build an emergency fund. Unexpected things happen. If COVID-19 taught us nothing else, it taught us that. Knowing you have fall back money for the tough times will greatly reduce financial worry.
4. Reduce debt. Debt is like a noose hanging around your neck. It ma
kes it especially hard to get ahead financially. Draft a plan to reduce debt as aggressively as possible and stick to it!
5. Save, save, save. Many experts recommend saving 10% or more of your income. Whether you are saving for retirement, education, or high-ticket items like vacations and other life-enriching experiences, it’s all worth it!
Finally, it is important to take a deeper look into your belief system around money. Money is an emotionally charged topic for just about everyone. Your beliefs about money are likely subconscious, stemming from your childhood experiences and your parents/guardians’ beliefs about money. Often, these unconscious beliefs and feelings drive our financial behaviors in negative ways.
Forbes identifies 4 types of money beliefs:
1. Money avoiders. In general, money avoiders view money as negative and a source of fear/anxiety. They often think they don’t deserve money or that it is inherently bad in some way. They feel greedy when they want money and/or wealth, mistakenly associating this natural desire with greed.
2. Money worshipers. Money worshipers believe money will solve all their problems. They place an undue importance on money that can negatively affect their relationships and quality of life.
3. Money status. People with a money status belief system tend to tie their self-worth to their financial worth. Money equals success in their books. They often spend too much on the latest, hottest items to display that success to the world.
4. Money vigilance. People with money vigilance tend to be frugal. They also tend to be savers. They hold onto to their money tightly, anxious that they won’t have enough stashed away for emergencies.
According to research by Dr. Brad Klontz and Dr. Sonya Britt, professors at Kansas State University, only three of the four primary money beliefs (money avoidance, money status, and money worship) are linked to potentially destructive financial behaviors. However, just because people with money vigilance belief systems don’t typically get themselves into financial trouble, doesn’t mean they are financially well or stress-free. Enjoying the money you make is an important aspect of financial well-being. True financial wellness isn’t just about surviving, it’s about thriving!
Don’t put your financial well-being on the back burner any longer. Take steps today to reduce financial stress and increase financial well-being! For more tips about financial well-being, check out our recent podcast with finance expert, Josyln Ewart. Also, head over to My Challenges inside the EnvisionWell app an join our Finance Challenge today!
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